Li Na faces toughest test of her career

Li Na has just made it though to her first ever US Open semifinal, with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 victory over the 24th seed Ekatarina Makarova from Russia. It also means a Chinese woman has reached at least the semifinals in all four Grand Slam tournaments (after Li and Zheng Jie in Australia, Li at Roland Garros, and Zheng at Wimbledon). The result should finally consign last week’s drugs “scandal” to history.

But now the real fun begins.

Li Na faces a daunting task on Friday

Up next is the number one seed and defending champion Serena Williams, who just beat the 18th seed Carla Suarez Navarro from Spain 6-0, 6-0. That’s right: she double-bageled a legitimately good player in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. Serena hasn’t dropped a set yet, conceding an average of just 1.3 games per set on her seemingly inevitable march to a fifth US Open title.

Does Li Na have any chance whatsoever? Well, she’s beaten Serena just once in nine meetings – in Stuttgart in 2008. Li has not taken a set off Williams in their last six matches. A quick look at the odds shows that Li is a massive underdog. In tennis terms, beating Serena on this form would be more impressive than winning the French Open title in 2011.

You have to think Li’s chances are slim to none, and Slim is saddling up and preparing to leave town. But stranger things have happened, so keep an eye out for the match on Friday.

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